About 6 weeks ago, we adopted 2 senior cats.

While bringing them home, one of the cats defecated in her carrier.

Last night, I took them both to our vet for a checkup. Each cat has their own carrier, and both rode in the front of the car with me. I drove back roads as much as possible, and did my best to avoid sudden stops and acceleration.

The ride to the veterinarian's office is much shorter than the ride from the pet food store we rescued them from, and I was pleased to see that we made it without another incident.

However, on the way home after the appointment, she defecated again (I suspect shortly before we arrived at home, as I did not smell it until I went to pick her up).

Clearly both cats were very stressed by the car ride, but so far 2 out of 3 short trips have resulted in the 13 year old female making a mess.

Are there any strategies for minimizing this? The obvious solution would be to only take her right after she uses the litter, but since we have to schedule our appointments weeks ahead of time, and the time of the appointments largely depends on the doctor's availability and my work schedule, I'm not sure how practical that would be.

Are there other strategies that might help?

  • cats are great- you and this asker need to trade places. in reality, restrict food before the carrier? Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 19:52
  • @tedder42 Ironically, the vet asked for a stool sample, and I jokingly thought to myself that this cat would likely produce a nice fresh one right as we walked in the door. Of course, instead she waited until after....
    – Beofett
    Commented Jul 16, 2014 at 19:57
  • Transport is extremely nerve-wracking for cats.
    – jeremy
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 5:18
  • related: pets.stackexchange.com/questions/5644/…
    – Zaralynda
    Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 19:24
  • Do your cats free-feed, or do you feed them at set times? How long before the trip do they eat? Commented Jul 18, 2014 at 1:25

2 Answers 2


Your cats are pooping in the carrier because they are nervous.

There are several strategies for dealing with this (none foolproof)

  1. As you indicate take the cat in after it poops (but the bowels still might have some stuff in them and when your cat gets really afraid...)

  2. Change the feeding schedule before the visit, for instance 6-8 hours before the visit try giving no food, give food when you come home from the visit (again this only reduces the likelyhood)

  3. Talk to your cat in a soothing manner during the drive (of course that's like if someone is threatening to kill you and a friend is saying nice things to you at the same time...)

  4. Someone else mentioned not having the cat in a carrier but on a harness in the back seat with another person holding the lead. Note if the cat gets loose in the car this can be dangerous. At the same time a cat on a harness/lead tends to be more calm than one in a carrier.

Good luck.

  • We've taken a couple of 1000mi road trips, we let our indoor-only cats roam in the car without leashes (but with harnesses on). When we are done for the day we put 'em back in the cage. They seem to be more comfortable, though there's some roaming and vocalizing. Commented Jul 17, 2014 at 15:33

I have this problem with a cat I adopted. He gets very nervous and I don't think this reaction will go away anytime soon. I bought him a reusable cat diaper to minimize the mess and so he doesn't end up covered with poop. It works great and he doesn't seem to mind it too much

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